Earn Roadmap Points and a Chance for Free Registration to Credit Congress: Elevator Speeches Contest

Only 11 days remain to submit your elevator speech for NACM’s annual Elevator Speeches contest. The best speech—selected by NACM’s editorial staff—will receive a free registration to NACM’s Credit Congress & Expo in Aurora, Colorado, on May 19-22, 2019. Each participant also receives .1 roadmap point toward an NACM designation, regardless of whether the submission wins.

To enter, submit your best elevator pitch about your job as a credit professional—you’ll have 30 seconds or less, roughly 100 words, to sell your professional career—to bcm@nacm.org with the subject line “elevator speech” by Nov. 30, 2018. Submissions must be sent electronically as an attachment or in the body of an email. The winner will be published in the February 2019 issue of Business Credit.

Terms and conditions apply. For the complete list of contest rules, visit https://nacm.org/elevator-speeches.

This is a reminder that blogs have been moved to https://bcm.nacm.org/index.php/blog. For more regular updates, visit that new site or the Business Credit app on your mobile device.

—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate

NACM Blogs Have Moved

NACM will be moving all blog posts—including STS blog updates—to bcm.nacm.org, where you will now have access to eNews, blog updates, Chris Kuehl's briefs, Business Credit magazine articles, Week in Review and more, all in one place.

Access this content by visiting NACM's homepage or add bcm.nacm.org to your bookmarks for quick access.

If browsing on your phone is more your thing, fret not: All of this content will be in NACM's Business Credit app, available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

—NACM editorial staff

First Blockchain Syndicated Loan a Success

During the week of Nov. 5, the first-ever loan between three countries was transmitted via blockchain. A total of $150 million in a syndicated loan for Red El├ęctrica, the Spanish grid operator, was sent over a private blockchain network BBVA, which also worked with partners MUFG of Japan and BNP Paribas of France.

This marks an innovation in the development of blockchain, further refining the exchange of money through digital means. The timeline of the loan exchange was also time-stamped, showing a clear progression for just how quickly blockchain transactions are performed. The syndicated loan process can be done in a matter of days compared to the usual couple of weeks, and loan signing and documentation processing can be done in just a few minutes.

The blockchain network for this loan was protected with user codes, ensuring the transfer was secure and safe. BBVA not only proved using blockchain for syndicated loans saves time, it also reduced internal costs for clients. All the back-office operations were completed by the blockchain, speeding up the process and the need for tedious labor.

In many nations, governmental regulation of blockchain remains sparse if not nonexistent, and Spain has been working toward more secure blockchain structures throughout 2018. Now that Spain has successfully transferred a loan via blockchain, perhaps more innovations will occur in the near future.

—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate

Chinese Exports, Imports Boom in October, Despite US Trade War

The U.S.-China trade debacle has yet to cease, but according to a CNBC report on Nov. 1, Chinese exports and imports flourished in October, reaching a trade surplus of $31.78 billion with the U.S. Despite economists’ predictions of an overall $35 billion trade surplus, the country’s General Administration of Customs reported it was nearly $1 billion less.

Chinese exports and imports improved over October 2017’s numbers, rising 15.6% and 21.4%, respectively. In a Reuters poll, economists predicted only an 11% growth in the country’s exports in addition to a mere 14% growth in imports.

“Many economists say the phenomenon is mostly due to exports benefiting from increased orders before the tariff’s hit, but the figures are likely to show stress in the months ahead,” CNBC states.

“The government would say confidence is the issue and the trade war is the trigger, so that’s why we should blame the trade war,” added Independent Economist Andy Xie in an interview with CNBC. “It’s an excuse to not do anything (to solve the problem, and) rather to frame this as part of the big trade war.”

Year-over-year, September’s export and import numbers in China weren’t as successful as last month’s results; however, they did improve over 2017, growing 14.5% and 14.3%, respectively.

­—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate

The 2018 Election Results on Public Construction Funding

The Nov. 6 election saw record voter turnouts across the country, making history in gubernatorial and Congressional elections. Results flooded in, changing the balance of power in the House of Representatives and shaking up statewide legislation. The construction industry saw changes too, primarily in terms of funding public projects. Several states voted to: use gas taxes to fund projects, fund water systems projects, fund new transportation construction efforts and more. Some of the biggest changes to construction funding came out of Florida, New Jersey, California, Missouri and Colorado.

Two counties in Florida—Broward and Hillsborough Counties—voted to pay more for transportation and infrastructure. Broward County voters passed a 30-year tax increase that will fund a new bus service, begin construction of bike lanes and build road drainage projects in flood-prone areas. Other transportation-focused construction initiatives will also receive funds. Hillsborough County voted to increase county sales tax by 1% to pay for road improvements.

New Jersey voted to borrow $500 million to improve water systems in public schools and increase funding for K-12 security measures. Other projects include funding vocational schools and expanding educational efforts outside of the construction sphere.

California voted “no” on Proposition 6, meaning the state will continue to fund public construction projects through fuel taxes. These taxes are part of an effort to fund a $52 billion state infrastructure initiative.

Unlike Florida, New Jersey and California, Missouri and Colorado voted against funding public construction projects.

Missouri voters rejected Proposition D, meaning the state’s fuel tax will not be increasing by 10 cents per gallon. The funding would have been used for road and bridge construction. This result does not come as a surprise to most voters as the most recent gas tax for construction funding in Missouri was passed more than 20 years ago.

Colorado rejected not one but two proposals—Propositions 109 and 110—to fund public projects to “Fix Our Damn Roads” and increase taxes by 0.62% to fund $6 billion for multimodal projects, upgrades to roads, bridges and highways.

—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate

For more construction news, visit NACM's Secured Transaction Services.

E-Payments Make Another Stride Forward for B2B Transactions

Another initiative to push e-payments in and paper checks out of the business-to-business (B2B) sphere emerged recently, this new method using libraries in a Business Payments Network (BPN). Visa and Billtrust announced an open buyer and supplier payments platform designed to digitize the payment chain between businesses.

Most consumers have switched from cash and checks to debit cards and e-payments, but B2B payments have largely resisted this change: two-thirds of all business transactions are still done through paper mail. Banks and payment companies have been attempting to innovate the process recently, catching the B2B world up to speed.

Throughout the last 20 or so years, Billtrust compiled information from roughly 2,000 suppliers in the U.S., tracking how each supplier accepts e-payments (by card or ACH). After it’s determined how the supplier will be paid, the accounts payable (AP) provider—a bank or an independent software company—will send the instructions through the BPN to pay the supplier by the preferred method.

While this effort has taken a couple of decades to launch and checks still remain relevant in B2B payments, the use of this BPN will not make any significant changes overnight. But this method may inspire businesses moving forward into the e-payment and digital world.

—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate

Freight Shipments Fall in Q3, Spending Sees Increase

The effects of Hurricane Florence and tariffs on imported goods impacted 2018’s Q3, seeing a 5.2% quarterly decline in freight shipments, according to the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index. Year-over-year, freight shipments fell by 1.1%.

Even with these drops, freight spend still increased by 13.5%, year-over-year. Constrained trucking capacity limited the amount of goods that were shipped, but it is likely the jump in freight spending comes from higher-than-average transaction prices.

Clean up and restoration from Hurricane Florence still continues in the southeastern United States, which will likely boost sales and freight shipments for relief efforts. The demand for labor and supplies is predicted to balance out the freight industry in the areas affected by Florence as the year comes to an end, but it may not see an immediate bounce back.

"As trucking often leads the broader economy, the decreases seen in the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index suggest economic growth may have peaked and may decelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," Bob Costello, chief economist for American Trucking Associations (ATA), said in the press release. "Despite the sequential decreases in freight shipments and spending last quarter, the national truck market remains solid and capacity tight."

—Christie Citranglo, editorial associate